I spent three days at a refugee camp. Here’s what I learned

THE STAGGERS: 15 OCTOBER 2015:  SHABANA MAHMOOD Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood, reflects on her recent visit to refugee camps in Greece.  

What am I doing here? I asked myself that question a lot during the three days that I spent on the Greek island of Lesvos last week, working with a group of Birmingham based volunteers to provide aid and assistance to refugees as they land on the shores of Europe.

I asked myself that question as I helped pull people off dangerously overfull dinghies; as I tried to block out the screams of a small child terrified by the dangerous boat journey he had just survived; as I found myself knee deep in wet clothes discarded by refugees trying to find anything that could be salvaged; and as I tried to tell a crying mum that we had run out of milk. Read more … http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2015/10/i-spent-three-days-refugee-camp-heres-what-i-learned

Immigration Bill Second Reading

parliament_logoThe Second Reading of the Immigration Bill took place on 13 October 2015.   “Reasoned amendments” to the Bill, which call for a vote to be taken to stop the Bill proceeding, were tabled by Labour, SNP, the Lib Dems and the Greens. The text of these amendments are attached as a file so that you can see the basic positions of each party.  Only the Labour amendment was chosen for debate and when this was voted on it was defeated by 322 votes to 282.

In relation to the proposed changes to asylum support it is worth noting that the Immigration Minister stated that “Section 55 of the Children Act will continue to apply as regards safeguarding duties towards children (col. 276).  The full debate can be read at:http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm151013/debindx/151013-x.htm

Letters: Use of Language

2015 Aug 19 CalaisCentral England Quaker Peace Committee – Central England Asylum Group

Central England Quaker Peace Committee

Central England Asylum Group

Have you noticed the government’s “change of heart” about receiving Syrian refugees?

Are you aware that the new approach to these refugees is in direct contrast to the measures introduced by the government to create a “hostile environment” for asylum-seekers?

Are you worried that a “hierarchy” of asylum-seekers and refugees might lead to further distress for the thousands from all over the world who are already here?

Would you like to make your views heard?

If so, please write to your MP, and encourage others in your Meeting to do so too. Continue reading

Inside the Fortress

Carrs Lane stained-glass-2-495x400“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25,35)

Central England Quaker Asylum Group and the Church at Carrs Lane invite you to an evening of discussion on the current refugee situation, including the position of those asylum-seekers in the UK who do not appear in the current media coverage.

Andrew Lane, Representative at the Quaker Council for European Affairs in Brussels, will bring us up-to-date with the developments at European level, as well as informing us about the dangers of plans for the use of military intervention to control the flow of refugees.

In addition to looking at the situation in the UK and in the EU, we will consider how we can support asylum-seekers both individually and corporately.

Tuesday 20 October at Carr’s Lane Church, Birmingham 19.00– 21.30

Letters: Remove the barbed wires against humanity

2015 Oct 16 LetterA  group of Bootham Quaker School Parents are keen to support refugees in UK and especially York.
They are planning to:
– send a series of letters to gov officials,
– to raise funds for RAY through table top sales and tick sale for art sessions, social evenings, etc.
– and to support RAY as volunteers.
They are very keen to link and co-ordinate their actions with other Quakers locally and nationally and would like to keep Friargate Friends up to date.

This is the second letter that will be sent –2015 Oct 19 RAG Letter 2 Cameron (1) – feel free to use it as the basis for your own letters:  You will need to adapt it to your circumstances …

Remove the barbed wires against humanity.  Continue reading

Letters: Increasing the number of refugees in the UK with immediate effect

2015 Oct 16 LetterA  group of Bootham Quaker School Parents are keen to support refugees in UK and especially York.
They are planning to:
– send a series of letters to gov officials,
– to raise funds for RAY through table top sales and tick sale for art sessions, social evenings, etc.
– and to support RAY as volunteers.
They are very keen to link and co-ordinate their actions with other Quakers locally and nationally and would like to keep Friargate Friends up to date.

This is the first letter that will be sent -feel free to use it as the basis for your own letters: 2016 Oct 16 RAG Letter 1 Cameron You will need to adapt it to your circumstances …

Increasing the number of refugees in the UK with immediate effect Continue reading

Syrian refugees and the UK

2015 Oct 19Summary:  As the Syrian crisis gets ever deeper, there is ongoing pressure for the UK to accept more Syrian refugees. Over 12.2 million Syrians need help in the country, of whom 7.6 million are internally displaced. 4.1 million Syrians have fled abroad, mostly to neighbouring countries in the region.

UNHCR is calling on the international community to provide places for 130,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. Just over 100,000 places have been offered so far.

Up until 29 January 2014, the Government’s policy was to be generous with humanitarian aid to Syria’s neighbours rather than to accept recognised Syrian refugees for resettlement in the UK. However, the Government then decided to establish a ‘Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme’ (VPRS), in order to provide a route for selected Syrian refugees to come to the UK.
The scheme prioritised victims of sexual violence and torture, and the elderly and disabled. Continue reading

Immigration detention statistics 27 August 2015 to 25 November 2015

UK govGov.uk: The figures in this topic brief relate to the number of people entering, leaving or in detention, solely under Immigration Act powers, at immigration removal centres (IRCs), short-term holding facilities (STHFs) and pre-departure accommodation (PDA).

All data below relate to the year ending June 2015 and all comparisons are with the year ending June 2014, unless indicated otherwise.

1.Key facts

The number of people entering detention in the year ending June 2015 increased by 10% to 32,053 from 29,122 in the previous year. Over the same period there was a similar increase of 9% in those leaving detention (from 29,055 to 31,628). Continue reading

Criminalising refugees: the disgrace of Britain’s immigration detention centres

   By Graham Peebles – 4th September 2015

Fleeing war, persecution and acute poverty, men, women and children have been arriving in Britain for generations. They come in search of peace: for work or education, and to build a decent life in a country were the rule of law is observed and human rights are respected.

According to Mary Bosworth, author of Inside Immigration Detention, currently the largest numbers arrive from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They also come from Nigeria and Jamaica, and from current and recent war zones: Syria, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. Many of those making the hazardous journey have been the victim of violence, sexual abuse and exploitation; some have mental health issues, all need to be shown tolerance, compassion and understanding. However, a significant number arriving in the UK are being incarcerated in the country’s 10 Immigration Detention Centres . Read more: http://www.redressonline.com/2015/09/criminalising-refugees-the-disgrace-of-britains-immigration-detention-centres/ Continue reading

The Second Reading of the Immigration Bill

parliament_logoThe Second Reading of the Immigration Bill will take place on Tuesday 13 October.  Organisations and individuals can write to MPs now and ask them to raise concerns about measures in the Bill when it is debated at Second Reading.  The Regional Asylum Activism project have provided a draft e-mail and an outline briefing focussing on the support cuts which individuals can send to MPs (both of which are attached as files). The Immigration Act 2015 – RAA Briefing – FINAL Continue reading